15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Europe: it's funnier than you might suppose,
This review is from: Neither Here, Nor There: Travels in Europe (Audio CD)
Every so often, flicking through the BBC radio stations, I've hit Kerry Shale or Bill Bryson reading from one of Bill's books. At that point I stop flicking and sit and listen. The furrow disappears from my brow and a smile appears on my face. The smile ratchets up into a grin and from time to time a laugh erupts. It happens every time Bill Bryson's thoughts and adventures come out of my radio. But I'm no longer prepared to toggle back and forth between BBC radio 4 and BBC radio 7 just hoping for a bit of Bill Bryson. I commenced a search for an audiobook and found this. Instead of the usual 10 to 20 minute snatch of radio broadcast, I've listened to a full 6 hours, on 5 discs and achieved a serene sense of having been entertained for long, blissful, uninterrupted acres of time. I've travelled from Hammerfest in Norway via France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Yugoslavia and lots of places in between, to end up in Turkey - and seen, heard, smelled and tasted the places and met the people through his descriptions. He's a terrible mickey-taker but still conveys a reasonably positive impression of most of the people he encounters. Even where the people seem a bit sullen and unhelpful there are reasons supplied (usually). For example, the folks in Yugoslavia had been struggling to make even a modest living and had little enough to smile about at the time of his visit. In any case, the main victim of his barbed humour through the whole journey is himself. He soaks up the splendour and atmosphere of the fabulous places he stays, points out their faults, extols the virtues of the peoples and enthusiastically recounts their absurdities. He was only truly scathing about the people of one country and, although I haven't travelled very much, it was one of the few countries I'd actually visited (school skiing holiday many years ago) and I found those people very nice. That just goes to show that you have to take people as you find them, enjoy this audiobook for its entertainment value and not base your beliefs about whole nations on the behaviour of a few (probably) unrepresentative individuals.
I thoroughly enjoyed this audiobook and highly recommend it. And now I'm off to choose my next Bill Bryson - The Lost Continent or Notes from a Small Island ... can't quite decide yet ...